in Cyprus, the long healing of survivors of the Tribe of Nova festival – L’Express

in Cyprus the long healing of survivors of the Tribe

For four months, they found themselves “among themselves”, mastered their fears and shared their stories within a spa establishment with white walls surrounded by lush nature. Perched on the hills overlooking the seaside resort of Paphos, the high-end Secret Forest resort has welcomed more than a thousand Tribe of Nova survivors for short therapeutic stays.the techno music party where 364 festival-goers were massacred by Hamas at sunrise on October 7. Some had previously been mutilated or raped. Around forty others were kidnapped.

That morning, stationed near the vegan buffet in a dining room flooded with light, Despina Maria, the owner of the establishment, and Chris Davarashvili, in charge of the “Nova” activities, measure the progress made. “More than four months ago, the first group of survivors of the festival passed through the doors of our house. We did not imagine that it would last until today,” they say about their project made possible by a Israeli entrepreneur, Yoni Kahana. On October 7, this tourism professional was there to celebrate the Jewish festival of Sim’hat Torah: he convinced the management of this wellness center, with spa and swimming pool, to mobilize for the survivors. No sooner said than done. The establishment offers a retreat space and various workshops: art, theater, massage, etc. The weekend, Secret Forest also welcomes parents bereaved by the tragedy. The humanitarian NGO IsraAid, based in Israel, finances the initiative which has grown in size. No less than 250 volunteer therapists accompany 19 groups of festival-goers on their healing journey.

READ ALSO: Massacre of October 7: “The Hamas attack could have been avoided, there was enough information”

“I feel guilty for having survived”

An expert in yoga, which she uses as a mental health tool, Shani, a fifty-year-old from London who lives on the Mediterranean island, says: “I worked in an orphanage in Rwanda in the mid-1990s, after the genocide. When I saw what happened at the Re’im rave party, it took me back to the trauma of 1994. I saw similarities. At first, young Israelis arrived here with wild eyes, trembling, in repression or denial. Today, surrounded by people who have experienced the same thing, they are inclined to work on themselves.”

Arriving two days before, Dean Carmel, 31, wanted to carry out this therapeutic stay alone. “I’m rather introverted,” confides this entrepreneur from Kfar Saba (central Israel) who discovered the trance music scene in Portugal a year earlier. He says: “It was late in the night of October 6 to 7, after a long day of work, that I decided to hit the road to join three friends at the Tribe of Nova festival.” He arrives at the site in the dark, before the rain of rockets coming from Gaza. “Then we saw hell. I feel guilty for having survived, but also for not having returned to the scene of the massacres to save a comrade,” he slips, before surrendering, a Frisbee in hand. by hand, to a singing workshop.

Dean Carmel, 31, was at the Tribe of Nova festival during the Hamas attack.

© / N. Hamou

Sitting at the entrance to the Spa, Ayala Avraham points on the screen of her cell phone to the portrait of Ilan, the man of her life for forty years, shot dead on October 7 by Hamas terrorists, while he had managed to escape from the festival. “2,500 people attended his funeral. Ilan was a well-known figure in the trance music community. At his funeral, no one was dressed in black,” she says tenderly.

READ ALSO: The crazy story of two sons of a Hamas leader: espionage for Israel, exile and betrayal

Emblematic of the mobilization of civil society, the “Cypriot” initiative fills the shortcomings of the Israeli government… which only funds twelve hours of therapy per survivor. And again, not all Nova festival-goers are eligible. The most severe cases, however, are treated by war trauma specialists in the Jewish state. For the rest, Nova families organize themselves. It was not until the end of February that state aid of 5 million euros was released for these survivors. On the legal front, 42 relatives of festival victims have initiated proceedings against the Shin Bet (secret services) and the Tsahal (the army) who authorized the event to take place.

In Tel Aviv, psychiatrist Nitsa Nacash Axelrod says she rushed to the emergency room at Sheba-Tel Hashomer hospital in the nearby suburbs on October 7 at 3 p.m. “It has often happened to me to rush after attacks,” says this specialist in civil or military trauma. “In this specific case, I quickly understood the scale of the disaster and the importance of applying a prevention protocol. of post-traumatic stress disorder.” Along with other therapists, she treats 60 Nova survivors with acute symptoms. The fate of the 140 hostages still held in Gaza (around a hundred of whom are estimated to be alive), including many Nova festival-goers, is obviously occupying the minds of all the patients. In order to raise international awareness of their plight, Itay Regev, 18 years old, kidnapped during the Nova festival, and released after fifty-one days of captivity, returned to Re’im at the beginning of January as part of a press conference in the attention of foreign media. The same day, on the edge of a field covered with portraits of the victims of the party, the noise of the fighting in Gaza could be heard in the distance. Yarden Gonen, whose 23-year-old little sister, Romi, was captured during the festival, whispers: “I always wanted to believe in peace. But now we must do everything to ensure that October 7 never happens again . Our country will not be able to recover from this tragedy without the return of the hostages.”